Basketball is back and so are the Raptors. It has been a longtime away from the city for a lot of the returning players and what they missed the most was you. When asked what he missed about Toronto that was Demar DeRozan's answer. "Just the interaction with fans and the support system that they give us. There is nothing like it." Demar continued his thoughts on being back in the city, "It just feels good being in the city and fans seeing you out and getting to play in front of them."
Demar says once this season is done he wants to spend more time in Toronto this upcoming summer. He had talked about having a charity game for fans in Toronto during the lockout that he and Amir were trying to put together. It was a tradition that Vince Carter had started in Toronto and it was briefly continued by Steve Nash for a season. But according to Demar it is coming back, "I am going do it in the summer. Try give back to the city a bit. Bring in some NBA guys and have a game for the fans to watch."
Jerryd Bayless would likely be able to get an invite for that game. He has been pretty vocal about his love for the city and his happiness about being here. What did he miss about being away from Toronto? "Everything, I love the city there is a lot of things to do in the city. It is a place that I want to make my home for a long time and hopeful it is." In terms of his personal goals for the season " Just to win and if we win everything else will take care of itself. I just want to win and be a part of this franchise for a long time and that is my main focus."
The Raptors are happy to be back and happy to have the fans back as well. It was a pretty decent turnout for a pre-season game on Sunday. Part of that was the team they were playing, and the fact this was the lone pre-season home game. But still, the numbers compared to other NBA markets in the pre-season looked a lot bigger than games I saw in other markets via T.V. As an example the pre-season game in Detroit, once one of the strongest NBA markets, but is not as much anymore, it looked like a high school game was being played, not an NBA contest with Detroit and Cleveland.
Will have more on Demar DeRozan in another post. But will share this little bit now. When I asked him how he would pitch Toronto to other NBA Players if asked, he again brought up you folks that cheer on the Raptors. "It is a great city and a very diverse city and the support system from the fans is great." There is no doubt Raptor fans are some of the most passionate and supportive you can find. This is as long as they respect you and like you. When you lose that respect it can be hard to ever get it back. Jermaine O'Neal likely doesn't have the same fuzzy feelings about Toronto as Demar. Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and even Chris Bosh have all still claimed to love Toronto, but the love for them is more in the form of boos than cheers. But for now Demar DeRozan sits in a spot that they all have before him, on the rise and becoming the "People's Choice" as the "Face of the Franchise". The hope is that the next chapter that Demar will write in the coming years has a different result. There has never been a star on the Raptors that has truly embraced fans the way he has. When he and Sonny Weems just showed up to play some ball at a basketball court it was surprising. It is hard to imagine Vince, Tracy or Chris doing that. Raptor fans have to have two hopes in terms of DeRozan. One that he continues to improve and develop into a superstar. After that and maybe more importantly he will remain in Toronto once he does. It will always be a fear in the back of Raptor fans head until someone actually does stay for the long haul.